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Stories, and How We Interpret Them

“Be careful how you interpret the world; it is like that.” — Erich Heller

“We are defined by the stories we tell ourselves.” — Tony Robbins

Our beliefs do have a way of defining us, don’t they? Tell a story enough times and it begins to feel like our truth. Stories about who we are, the type of lifestyle we live, the work we do and the people we spend our time with. They usually have similar stories to ours, don’t they?

Listen to other storytellers. This can be dangerous and disruptive. Wars have begun over stories that don’t jibe with another. Entire cultures have been crushed by stories. There are whispered cries in history for the injustice and pain of a bad story, implemented. An entire lifetime can be wasted when hooked to the wrong story.

There’s friction in changing stories. How do you shake off the grip of long-held beliefs? The first step is to get out of the echo chamber of reinforcement. Digest new information, find new places, reach beyond what is comfortable.

Given the stakes, it’s fair to question what we believe to be true in the world. It’s fair to choose to change our story. This is where boldness comes into our story. To be bold is to step away from our previous self and begin the long climb to a better view.

The trap is to try to pull other people along who haven’t changed their own story just yet. Rarely does another soul want to hear that their story is wrong. Telling people anything is a sure road to resentment and conflict. Let them see instead. When we see we begin to change ourselves, and step towards a new story previously unimagined.

As with any great story, the first draft is nothing to celebrate. We don’t arrive in this world perfect in every way, no matter what our mother tells us. But we must keep editing. With time and patience and more than a little effort, eventually we’ll arrive at our masterpiece. At least that’s the story I tell myself.

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